A Special Message from UAC President: 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

August 19, 2013


Greetings Coalition Family and Friends,

On Saturday August 24th and on Wednesday August 28th thousands of Americans will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Yes, it’s been almost 50 years since 250,000 Americans from almost all communities gathered in Washington, DC to declare to the world that injustice and inequality in America must end.  Our own UAC board member Dr. Bernard C. Anderson, famed economist said, “I participated in the march, in fact stood near the front of the Lincoln Memorial for 8 hours!  The crowd thinned only after Dr. King’s (now famous, I Have a Dream) speech that was delivered at 4:30 that afternoon, a hot, sunny day.”

This peaceful gathering spurred the passage of the Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Acts.  It laid the groundwork for greater access to quality education, opened the doors to institutions of higher learning, and made it illegal to deny a qualified borrower a home mortgage. It also helped to strengthen the women’s rights, LGBT rights, Latino rights and the human rights movements. 

Yet the struggle for justice and equality is not something that is won like a football game.  The battle for justice is a long distance race, one that may not end in our lifetime but one that must be run each and every day.

As Dr. King stated, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Today we see threats to voting rights and the injustice in the verdict of the killer of an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin.  And we also see much more, the Economic Policy Institute reminds us that we have much unfinished business especially “the economic goals of the march”.  The march called for an end to ghettos, yet today 50% of poor black children live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.  The march called for an end to segregated and unequal schools, yet today as they did 50 years ago, more than 70% of black children attend segregated schools,  the march called for jobs for African Americans who were twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts, the same is still true today.  The march called for moving beyond a starvation wage, yet today the minimum wage of $7.25 is worth $2.00 less than it was in 1968.

The Economic Policy Institute concludes, “In this 50th anniversary year of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we must recommit to the unfinished march.  This includes constant vigilance to sustain the march’s clear but still vulnerable, victories.  But just as important as sustaining the civil rights goals achieved, we must confront the goals still unmet.”

Sharmain Matlock-Turner

President/CEO Urban Affairs Coalition